County Championship: Lancashire beat Derbyshire by an innings to win promotion
|Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Emirates Old Trafford (day three):|
|Derbyshire 244: Godleman 111; Gleeson 5-64, Mahmood 3-45 & 129: Bailey 3-14, Parkinsoin 3-28, Maxwell 3-39|
|Lancashire 418: Bohannon 174, Livingstone 71, Vilas 51; Rampaul 3-47, Dal 3-60|
|Lancashire (23 pts) beat Derbyshire (3 pts) by an innings and 45 runs|
Lancashire defied the Manchester weather to beat Derbyshire by an innings and 45 runs and secure promotion back to Championship Division One with two games to spare.
After moving on from their overnight score of 269-2 to be bowled out for 418, Lancashire then dismissed the visitors second time around for 129.
Tom Bailey took three cheap early wickets to put the hosts in control.
Spinners Matt Parkinson (3-28) and Glenn Maxwell (3-39) finished the job.
The final wicket, when Ravi Rampaul skied to Lancashire captain Dane Vilas off Parkinson came with the rain falling across Old Trafford as Lancashire completed an innings victory, which partially atoned for the pain of missing out on Finals Day in the T20 Blast last week.
Earlier, Lancs lost Liam Livingstone, who added just one to be out for 71 but Josh Bohannon went on to embellish his overnight maiden century, setting his new career-best at 174, while the 51 from Vilas made him only the fourth player to reach 1,000 County Championship runs this season - and the third in Division Two.
Red Rose blooming again
Lancashire's promotion is their fourth since the introduction of two-division cricket in 2000 - and each time they have done it at the first time of asking, the season after being relegated.
In 2005 and 2013, they went up as champions - and they have two games left to secure that honour for a third time (they last went up only as runners-up behind Surrey in 2015).
Assuming that second-placed Gloucestershire lose to Sussex on Friday and Northants win at Leicester, then Lancs would need just five points from their final two games to lift the Division Two title again.
They are back at Old Trafford again to host Middlesex on Monday, when Derbyshire will be at home to another of the serious promotion challengers Sussex.
Lancashire's strength in depth has made them look a cut above for most of the season. A pace department spearheaded in early season by Jimmy Anderson and Graham Onions could afford the mid-season loss to injury of Bailey, prior to Anderson's own anguish.
Richard Gleeson (38), Bailey (26) and Saqib Mahmood (19) all came up with key contributions to follow on the good wicket-taking work by the ageless Anderson (30 in 6 matches, at an average of 9.37) and Onions (42 in nine matches).
There was also a share of 27 wickets late in the season from spinners Parkinson and Maxwell.
And, leading superbly from the front throughout it all has been skipper Vilas, who has so far plundered 1,016 runs - at an astonishing average in excess of three figures (101.60), having gone past 50 nine times in his 14 innings.
But the South African's prodigious efforts have been bolstered by contributions from Rob Jones (593 at 42.36), Keaton Jennings (469 at 29.31) Alex Davies (443 at 44.30). Liam Livingstone (437 at 43.70), Steven Croft (333 at 41.62) and latterly Josh Bohannon (405 at 67.50).
Lancs head coach Glen Chapple told BBC Radio Lancashire:
"We have achieved our main aim but obviously we want to win the division and that remains the target. We didn't want to take our foot off the gas because we've played so well for so long despite suffering disappointments in the knockout competitions.
"It was important we reinforced how well the lads have played this year by finishing well. The cricket we've played in our opinion has been of a high standard.
"Josh Bohannon's century was brilliant. His timing, the way he went about scoring runs, his running between the wickets was aggressive and the way he put the pressure in the opposition.
"For a young lad to be challenged with batting at number three, it has really paid off and everyone is delighted for him."
Derbyshire head coach David Houghton told BBC Radio Derby:
"Lancashire are a good side and they played really good cricket. They put us under the cosh from the first ball to the last.
"Billy Godleman's first innings hundred against this attack was a fantastic achievement but unfortunately we could not bowl them out.
"And having Ravi Rampaul under wraps for next weekend meant we couldn't finish them off as quickly as I hoped.
"Batting the second time it was turning plenty, it was dark and we didn't get the best of conditions but taking nothing away from Lancashire."